Dan Harrison and his girlfriend Laura Harrison have done what many people have dreamed of: quitting the hustle and bustle to live in nature. They moved from the United Kingdom to Portugal, where they purchased a small farm. They had no previous experience with farming or construction, just a dream to create an off grid home and the motivation to make it a reality. And they are inspiring others to do the same as they document their process on the Origin Homestead YouTube channel.
Creating an Off Grid Home on an Abandoned Farm
Dan and Laura’s journey was not easy. As one would expect, their lack of experience has slowed their progress. But through trial and error, the couple is seeing success and the fruits of their labor. Literally, since their farm produces grapes, apples, olives, and plums.
But their story began several years ago when Laura and Dan moved from the city into a camper van to live closer to nature. Although it was a difficult transition, the van became home. But they took an even larger leap of faith about a year ago. They bought a piece of rustic land in Portugal, 1.7 acres, on the outskirts of a small village. They were afraid the first time they drove their van onto their new property. The land was overgrown and in need of repair. The stone barn was in even worse condition and filled with mice. 
The first thing they did was build a polytunnel to store their tools and belongings. They also built a wooden makeshift base for a shed they had purchased second hand, and they struggled to assemble it without official instructions. But when it was ready, it became crucial as they embarked on other off-grid home projects—namely, trimming the overgrown weeds in the intense Portuguese summer heat.
Read: Family who live in off-grid clay house have paid no bills for nearly a decade
“Feels like a homestead“
Next, they tackled the barn, first cleaning out debris from within it. The floor was so packed with hay and horse manure, the couple was shocked at how much larger the space looked after they cleared it out. The next item on the list was building fences and gates. During this process, they learned how to make concrete for the first time. But they took a lot of pride in their classically-styled farm gate, which they had made from scratch from decking boards. “It’s these touches that started to make it feel like a homestead,” Laura said in one of their videos. 
They recycled wooden pallets to create an area for compost. But Dan was particularly excited to make an outdoor calisthenics rig to serve as a home gym. After that, they started on a particularly big job: building the off grid outhouse log cabin, which would home the couple’s shower, toilet, and compost. Of course, Dan and Laura made many mistakes during this process but they grew and learned from them.
“Just turn up and find a way”
“So many people don’t give themselves permission to do things in fear that they haven’t got all the resources, skills, and money to do the job,” said Laura. “But the key in life is that you just have to turn up and find a way.” The couple used many recycled materials for the outhouse, including windows and doors they managed to get for free. “We’re two people who haven’t built much stuff in our lives so everything was a learning curve on the way.”
Their first harvest was a joyous occasion. The couple grows grapes on their land, and while picking them was exhausting, stomping on them was a lot more fun. They set up a processing station and when they were finished “the grape juice tasted amazing.”
The couple utilized solar panels to power their outhouse. The next step for their off grid home was creating tunnels for collecting rainwater into IBC tanks. And this led to another idea. Portugal can often feel over 40 degrees Celsius in the summer, and the couple decided to build a plunge pool to cool off. Once again, they used recycled wooden pallets and a large blue tarp. After this, they began building an outdoor kitchen space, complete with a sink and a stovetop.  They have accomplished so much in such a short period of time but they still have along way to go to complete their dream.
Keep Reading: Woman Has Been Living Off-Grid for Over 80 Years
- “Couple Spent $12,500 on Off Grid Home and Quit Everything.” Truth Theory. Mike Sygula. August 27, 2023
- “3 MONTHS OFF GRID Everything Built Homesteading – TIMELAPSE.” The Origin Homestead. November 30, 2022
- “SPENT $12,500 On OFF GRID Land We quit Everything for this.” The Origin Homestead. August 24, 2023